Another Walk With A Wider Harness

I had another walk with

On Thursday afternoon i got a phone call from the guide dog mobility instructor i saw on Wednesday. Well one of them anyway. I missed the call as i was in Derry for the day, and by the time i got back from that i didn’t think it would be appropriate to call.

So on Friday morning, I phoned her back. I was kind of nervous, as i wasn’t sure what to expect. When i talked to the instructor, she told me that she wanted to try me out with the wider harness, or the “Side fitting” harness. I had a go briefly with it on Wednesday, but it was only for about 5 minutes. So she was going to come out today (Monday).

I sort of thought after hanging up the phone “i wonder is this a good thing” lol and then was thinking “what if it is a match” or “What if i wasn’t ready for the dog if it wasn’t a match” and stuff like that. As the weekkend went on, i started to be a bit more excited but there was still that little voice that said “you’re not ready” and that. I sent a couple of emails to my rehab worker basically telling him all my worries and that, and he reassured me a bit which was good.

So today came. I woke up bright and early as the instructor was coming at about half 10. There was going to be another instructor there, as the first instructor is just training, and needs someone to observe her.

So at about 11 o’clock, they arrived. They first got all the stuff out of the car, like the harness and stuff. They brought a shorter lead with them today as i thought the other lead was rather awkward. This lead wasn’t as awkward. I just kind of looped it between by two fingers, as they said that i would have better control if the dog started misbehaving or anything. We were doing a route that i knew, which was the route to college, well part of it anyway.

There was a car parked on the kerb slightly along, so we had to go off the kerb. I just told Ushi to “find the kerb” and then told her “forward” and then “Find the step again once she had gotten past it.

There is like a little side path that you can use to get round a corner on our route, or else you can just go around the outside, and round some cars. The dog took me down this path, which was okay. I just had never done that way with the cane.

There is another bit of the route where there is grass on one side of the path. Ushi started speeding up lol. Apparently dogs do this if they know there is grass, and if it is an open space, as they think they will get a “free run” which is where they can run off lead and harness. I just had to get her to slow down. She wasn’t going massively fast, but still, she needed to slow down. I just gave the “steady” command, which is where you kind of move the harness up and down slowly, and say “steady” but kind of drag it out.

Once i said that, she slowed down which was good.

When we crossed the road, what would usually happen with the cane would be that you would kind of go straight on, and then you would find the wall and then turn left. Apparently you can just turn left as soon as you cross the road, as it is a low kerb, and you don’t need to find the shore line, as this would mean that the dog was walking you into stuff, which would kind of defeat the purpose lol. I thought that was cool that you could just turn left. I found out that you don’t do the “left behind” when you are on an up kerb, as you could fall off it lol. Instead, you use the “Left in front” which is where you turn your left foot but have your right foot straight, and then you point with your right arm across your body and say “left”. It is similar to the “right” command, only using opposite feet. I found this out the other day, but forgot to mention it.

I found out that when you kind of turn a corner you have to tell the dog to “find the kerb” as apparently the dog doesn’t make the decision, but you do, so you aren’t meant to make the dog actually turn the corner. Or go right round it.

We just went a small way along, and then went back past a local park. I had never really been this way with the cane though.

So we just crossed at one of our kerbs, instead of going right. At this point, i found out what the “guiding” road was. I had heard it on Wednesday, but didn’t fully understand it. Apparently, this is a really good tool for orientation. It is basically the traffic flow. It should either be on the left or the right. If it is behind you, then the dog has probably wondered up the wrong street.

I asked what would happen if you said the wrong direction, and apparently you can just retrace your steps, and once you are going the right direction again, you can give the dog loads of praise, as it has done what you wanted it to. You would just find the kerb, and then think about your “guiding road” and then turn the direction you wanted to go.

It went without a hitch after that. When we turned round, there is a road on to our street, and the dog knew that it was near the house, so she was going to the left alot, which would mean that she wouldn’t really be going across the road. So one of the instructors stood sort of in the middle of the road where straight would be, and i pointed to straight, but Ushi was being stubborn and just wouldn’t go. I had to give her a massive “straight!” and jerk the harness until she would actually go straight. She got there eventually. Then it was a “find the bus” to get to the car.

We stood talking for about 10 minutes while i stroked and praised Ushi lots. I told them that i hadn’t learnt any more routes apart from the route to and from college, and they were grand with that. They said that i wasn’t to worry about that, and that they would teach me more routes if i needed them.

They also said that the dog would be able to sleep in my room at home. It was up to me where i wanted the dog to sleep. I just wanted to make sure that was okay though before allowing the dog to sleep in the room. I asked them about bonding and they said that they will give me advice on how to bond, and asked if i played with the pet dog, but i said that i didn’t really bother with her, as she is kind of boisterous. They were cool with that too, and said that also feeding and that would help with the bond which was good. On class they will give us toys and stuff too. They will tell me what they are like and that, when they bring the dog out for a matching visit.

They also reminded me again that it is hard work, but basically it is hard for everyone.

They basically are going to be attached to the dog all the time at first if something awful was to happen. Thank god for that!!!

After that, they left. Oh, and new doggies are apparently coming over from Scotland in September, so who kknows!!!!!!!

I am glad that i got to use the wider harness. It wasn’t a bad thing after all!!! I found it much better than the first harness we used.

I am also glad about the route and that, as i was worried that they would be like “you should know more than that” but they are grand. They want me to ask as many questions as i need to, as they want it to work.

I am also glad that for the residential class, i will have the same instructor every day, which is good.

I hope that it does go well when i do get the match, and that i am able to focus and remember all the commands, and that i will be able to concintrate and focus. Yes i can probably switch off a bit, but probably only when i know a route really really really well.

Oh, by the way i got a picture on the other post. I hope it worked.

Sorry for the length of these posts, but i would rather that i got everything in. Plus it will hopefully help someone and it is also a record for me. I wish there was something else that i could do to prepare myself, but i don’t think there is anything else i can do to prepare lol.